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Once back in her office from her visit to Gavon’s, Melanie dropped the files on her desk before plopping down on her chair. Exhaustion has suddenly crept up on her, and she was not having it, not at the moment. She leaned back and closed her eyes, taking advantage of the silence her office space provided.

Even though only ten minutes or so had passed, Melanie was startled back to full consciousness after a notification from her computer went off. She yawned as she clicked open the message, seeing that it was a reminder to contact Rear Admiral Locke or at the very least, one of his people. It was nothing serious, simply an informal check-up to make sure the admiral didn’t require her services at the moment. He’d already had his sessions with her, and nothing about their previous interaction had alarmed her.

Five Years Ago


“Admiral Locke...sir, please, come in.”

Melanie stood by as her patient walked in, feeling slightly intimidated to have the highest-ranking officer of the Vitae in her office. Despite her civilian status, Melanie would make every effort to treat him with the utmost respect, similar to any other individual falling within his chain of command.

“You may have a seat wherever you’d feel most comfortable.” Melanie secured her door to avoid any unwanted interruptions. She then walked over to take her place across the admiral. Any items she would need during the upcoming hour had already been neatly placed on the coffee table between them both in anticipation of their session. Melanie then grabbed her notebook and pen and got comfortable.

“Admiral, allow me to start by asking whether you have any concerns you’d like to share… Doesn’t matter that they’re not recent, but I can only imagine you have a lot going on, and if anything is keeping you up at night and it shouldn’t, then maybe we can work through it together. We can then work back from there. Does that sound good?”

William took a seat at the coffee table, sitting up straight he surveyed the room. Comfortable, homey. Designed no doubt to knock any reservations the patients have down, making them feel at ease and willing to speak. It would be effective if William hadn’t spent his professional career commanding others, getting information out of those that didn’t want to share it. That said, his job demanded that he take part in at least one session every year to understand his mental wellbeing, failure to do so could jeopardize his command. In a way this Doctor held power over him.

The first of, hopefully not many, sessions to come and he was already fed up of it. There was one formality that required her attention first. William slid a datapad over the coffee table to her. “Two non-disclosure agreements. One Martian Unity, one UEC. I’ve done a lot in my career that is classified, I won’t be telling you anything you don’t need to know but in the rare case that something about my past assignments or this ship slips, I need you to know you will be held accountable if any of this information reaches the general population. In that case you will go to a Military Tribunal.”

“Oh...of course.” Melanie half-smiled, leaning forward to reach for the datapad. She clicked the end of her pen to switch tips in order to provide the admiral with her signature, using her full name in cursive instead of the short scribble she usually rushed through. "If I may, Admiral Locke, I'm sure you've heard of doctor-patient confidentiality, and I can assure you that it applies here. Anything and everything you tell me will remain confidential between the both of us." Melanie paused, placing the datapad back on the coffee table and pushing it closer to his side. "I'm bound by our own Code of Ethics, and needless to say if I were to deviate for whatever reason, I would immediately lose my ability to practice. So with that said, you can rest assured that I won't do anything that would make you lose your trust in me. I'd be facing serious repercussions on the civilian side of business. And more importantly, I care a great deal about my job. I know you have to go through your own formalities, but I want you to feel totally comfortable in here."

William leaned back, hand on his chin. As he took the time to think about what she had said. It was true that she would lose her civilian license and right to practice, and if that happened no doubt she would end up in a cryopod while someone who still had a license was brought out to replace her. “If you wanted me to feel comfortable this place would be a little more spartan.” He chuckled to himself. “No, this is more of a legality and a technicality. It’s also a deterrent, I mean you are far less likely to talk to anyone if you’d lose your license and have legal trouble.”
He leant back, making himself appear more at ease. “Nothing is keeping me up at night-” not wholly true, while he could sleep he was often plagued with dreams of Amanda and of the war “-though you are right. I do have a busy and hectic schedule. Today I’m meeting with astronomy and navigation, I need to meet with civilian representatives. Generally there’s just a lot to do, so if you wouldn’t mind getting to the point and asking what you need to ask to let me on my way. I’d appreciate it.”

His sense of urgency was evident in his voice. Although Melanie would have liked the session to last for a while longer, she couldn't hold back the admiral to "talk about his feelings" like some would have put it. He was an important man, and they both knew it.

"Alright, I won't hold you for long, I promise. I just need you to fill this out for me real quick and then you can be out of here. It's a screening, basically the minimum I have to do to make sure you'll continue to be fit for duty." As she spoke, Melanie handed the admiral a checklist. The instructions were clear; add a checkmark to the statements that applied. The questions covered some of the basic statements such as:


  • You are able to achieve a sense of control; you set and pursuit your goals and you have the ability to shape your own circumstances.
  • You have a belief in your own capabilities and you have self determination.
  • You feel you can have trust in your family, coworkers, and friends. You feel safe where you live and work.

Melanie knew some of the questions were one-dimensional that would make the admiral, or almost any person for that matter roll their eyes, but it was part of her job, regardless of the redundancy behind the process. Faking it was as easy as adding various checkmarks, but at least his signature at the bottom would save her butt in the future if something came up.

While the admiral busied himself, Melanie added some official session notes stating how he had refused to engage in conversation. Not that the lack of communication on his behalf was necessarily a bad thing, but her notes were created more so for the purposes of record-keeping.

William checked down the list, before holding the marker in his hand. He looked at Melanie, and then back to the questions. “These are the actual questions?” He paused, as he took time to think things through. He didn’t like them, he wasn’t sure what other questions could possibly be used in replacement for them. That however wasn’t exactly his job, that was their job to do. “You may want to think about replacement questions. With how recently we have left Sol behind they may cause more troubles than it’s worth.” He handed her the checklist back.

“That was relatively painless, though… if I’m honest I didn’t expect you to give up so easily without a fight…”

Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Fuzzybootz
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Fuzzybootz Cake or Death

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Riley Cavill


Riley Cavill did not have much time to decide what the team was going to do. Sergeant McCormick’s suggestion was a good one, and under normal circumstances she would have agreed.

“Thank you Sergeant, but the quickest way back to the ship is the way we came in.” she said as she watched the sergeant lift the wounded soldier on to his back. It was unfortunate that they would only be as fast as their slowest member. By lifting the wounded onto his back McCormick was making himself over encumbered and had taken himself out of proper tactical form. They would lose points for that decision. Though, the decision had already been made and it was up to her to make the best of it.

“Alright Boys, Move out! Stay tight! Ford, Knight, take Lead. McCormick you stay to the interior with the Scientists. Do Not Stop Men. Our lives depend on it. Do whatever it takes to get everyone on that ship. THAT’S AN ORDER.” She yelled and they all quickly fell in line. They were on the move in the next breath.

Riley positioned herself at the rear of the unit this time. She didn’t want to take the chance of being ambushed again and she put herself in the vulnerable spot. She trusted her team to get where they needed to be. What she did not trust was this simulation not throwing them another curve ball. She needed to get ahead of it, and she had a risky plan to do so.

After a few moments, Riley slipped away un-noticed by her unit and headed off into the forest alone.

*******

Unit Moved as fast they could through the forest. They followed all the markers they had set in the beginning so they could easily find their way back. It was eerily quiet however, and it was making everyone very uneasy. The scientists were uneasy because they had no idea what was going on. The Unit was uneasy because they expected an attack at any moment.

Then an unexpected blasting sound broke the silence, but it was some distance away. The Unit did not stop, and an attack never came as they expected it to.

Within 15 minutes they finally broke through into the clearing where the ship had landed. The clearing was littered with the broken and mangled bits of those alien cyborgs along with several still intact ones. The clearing was a small battle field with both the cyborgs and the units assigned to protect the ship attacking one another.

Again Riley’s unit did not stop or hesitate. They made a straight line for the ship; blasting away any cyborgs that got in their way. When they finally made it to the Cargo bay doors, they rushed all the scientists inside.

“Welcome Back Unit 3112” one of the commanders on board the ship said as the sound of the engines could be heard firing up. “Umm, where is Master Sergeant Cavill?”

The Unit looked around in utter confusion. Apparently no one had noticed their leader was not with them. Then right on cue, a blast across the clearing caught their attention. A lone figure was racing across the clearing followed by a rather sizable group of alien cyborgs.

******

Riley Cavill ran as fast as her feet could move her. Just up ahead was the ship and she could clearly see it was just minutes away from taking off. She pushed herself harder jumping over bodies and dodging shoots from behind her. Her risky plan to find and distract the alien cyborgs had apparently worked as she could see the members of her unit currently watching her from the ship.

She reached the ship just as the engines lifted off the ground and a cloud of dust filled the air. With grunt she leaped off her feet and landed on the ramp leading up to the cargo bay. Several hands then reached down and pulled her safely aboard. She quickly rolled onto her back as she heard the sound of the cargo bay doors closing. Several faces appeared and looked down at her in shock.

“Is everyone accounted for?” she asked breathlessly. Suddenly a small loading icon appeared at the bottom of her vision. It was letting her know that the simulation was about to end.

“Yes, sir’ one of her unit members answered.

“ooorahhh!” she exclaimed as her vision went black.
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Xandrya How the mighty have fallen

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Walking back into her office, Melanie noticed the admiral was already there and waiting, just like she'd been advised a few moments ago when she walked past the front desk. She greeted him with a smile, explaining that the reason for her brief tardiness was purely business related. And she wasn't exaggerating; her supervisor called her into his office to ask her a few urgent questions.

"So, how are you doing today, Admiral? I hope all is well." Melanie engaged in casual conversation as she grabbed a few items before starting their session.

William may have relaxed somewhat over the years when it came to these sessions, however he was still buttoned up and in prim and proper uniform, with his back straight. “Honestly, eyes been a bit sore. Tired, there’s a lot of work to do, though there’s nothing new there.” He pushed a tablet over to her. “That’s the record of my sleeping pattern, I should be getting enough to keep you happy, at least for a little while. Should I be getting more? Probably.”

“How are things with yourself Doctor?”

"Well, it's been a long day, but I can't complain," she replied, although I could use a drink right about now... Melanie cleared her throat, pushing her intrusive thought to the back of her mind. She then looked over the admiral's sleeping patterns, analyzing the data for a second. Although it didn't take a genius to notice he was lacking sleep.

"It's not me you should be keeping happy, it's yourself. You know how much rest you need to function properly, and it goes without saying that if you get enough sleep, your day will go much smoother. Work gets hectic, I get it, but those same people your work so hard for also rely on you and your ability to remain level-headed. If possible, delegate some of your more mediocre duties to someone in your staff. Or maybe set a timer and after that point, you don't touch anything work-related. This is just basic steps for improvement, but what do you think would work best for you? And please don't say sleeping pills."

Melanie gave him a slight smile, leaning back in order to get a bit more comfortable.

William chuckled slightly. “I get all the sleep that I am going to be able to get, and delegate all the duties that I am able to delegate. There is no such thing as a mediocre duty for myself, if it is mediocre then it isn’t one of my duties.” He sighed as he leaned back. “It’s one of the burdens of command, we’re trying to rotate leave in for all military personnel however we’re currently trying to create some form of ‘shore leave’ schedule. Let military personnel live in more comfortable quarters for a while, take a break from the constant demands of life.”

“What will help me sleep? Finding a planet.”

"Tell me, admiral, how open are you to practicing some meditative techniques? If we can't pull you away from work, we can attempt to lessen your stress in the meantime."

Melanie paused momentarily, writing down some notes as she waited for a response. She felt bad for him in a way, being stuck in such a position of power certainly didn't come without a price.

William chuckled. “Doc, you should know by now that the only thing keeping me going is the work. Stress doesn’t exist for me, this is my life.” William nodded his head along with Melanie. “Now, what questions you got for me this year?”

"Here's the thing, admiral," Melanie uncrossed her legs, leaning forward to put her stuff down on the table. She then positioned her elbow on the armrest, angling her body to one side while maintaining eye contact. "These sessions serve more than one purpose. They help evaluate your mental well being, sure, but they're also here to help you. Whatever angle I have to take, I'll need you to meet me somewhere. 'Help me help you,' as they say."

Melanie briefly considered adding some side remarks regarding their interaction, but she quickly dismissed the idea. After all, she couldn't force him to seek any form of assistance, whether he actually needed it or not. "However, in your case, I just need to make sure you're not currently fighting any battles in there," she quickly pointed at her own head, "although from what you've told me, you seem to have most of it figured out..."

She then remembering a crucial detail.

"How's your daughter, by the way?"

William shook his head. “Nope, no internal battles going on. My only battles are external, with what’s going on aboard ship and the war I had with the Devastators.” He chuckled to himself slightly before moving onto the next question, leaning back in his chair again.

“Amara is fine, strong as ever. She faces struggles, there’s a large following of people who think she’s awake and here because she’s my daughter. She faces a bit of a struggle due to that, other than that, she’s not brought any issues to me and we meet regularly so that’s a good sign.” Williams watch beeped, and he looked down at it.

“We must wrap this up soon, I have a mission to prepare. Are we good?”

“Glad to hear that. And…” Melanie reached for her datapad, filling out some quick information before signing it, “you’ll be glad to hear that you can go now. If you need anything admiral, just let me know, alright? It doesn’t have to wait until our next session.”

Melanie got up, walking with haste towards the door to see the admiral out.
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Rear Admiral William Locke
Command and Control Centre


William stood watching the readouts from the Nyx as final preperations were underway. At this point the entire crew for the away mission was already aboard, and ready to go. He imagined Elijahs thrill at that, his peaceful vessel would currently be packed by amped up Marines ready to go and do something and scientists drooling over the possibility of actually doing something. He was no doubt loathing every second of it, and wishing that his smaller crew was all that was needed for the missions. Sadly it wasn't that simple, they needed the best experts available to determine whether or not this planet could actually be a home for them. The mission was simple, jump to the planet. Perform rudimentary recon and scans while orbiting, which would allow the science and defence teams time to prepare for the environment. Then once that was done, move in and land, deploying the teams as needed to get the best coverage possible.

"Open the Nyx' bay doors." There was a 'yessir' off to his left "Put me through." While William would be able to seen by Elijah, no doubt a small hologram on one of the consoles of the smaller vessel, he was greeted by a giant visage of the commander. He keyed a command into his console and the image shrunk Elijah down to more of his normal size.

"Commander, your mission is a go." After five long years, five long years he was sending people to a planet that had the possibility to support human life. This was truly groundbreaking, he had considered confirming the rumours to the Ark News Service (ANS) but had decided against it. He didn't want to get everyones hopes up only to have them come crashing down again, that wasn't what the ship needed right now. The ship needed hope, it needed direction. They couldn't afford to be building people up only to knock them down straight away. "NeedI remind you that I expect contact every hour with a status update, and to not allow anyone on this mission to undertake any unecessary risk. I don't want to lose crewmembers out there."

"Go there, get some nice samples and come back. Godspeed Nyx. Admiral Locke, out."
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Matthew Lopez





"Go there, get some nice samples and come back. Godspeed Nyx. Admiral Locke, out."


Was the last words Lopez heard from the Admiral as the gates of the Nyx's rear began to close, hiding the last shed of light from the bay as the rows of passenger seats were filled with Marines and scientists, all nervous or excited to see this new world. Perhaps they all had the two feelings mixed within them. Lopez had not sat down, he stood up along the corridors of the ship's passenger bay, full armor and carrying his ARX rifle on his back. His heartbeat began began to race as he tried to keep a tough impression on the men and women among him, indeed despite his own uncertainty he remained with the stiff and rough demeanor he had always possessed among his own.

"Listen up people, both Marines and civvies alike, we don't know what we will encounter down there. I suggest to the scientist team that you keep close to my people and ready for a quick extraction if need be. No one wanders off alone, and you all listen to my orders. Marines, I expect the best of you, Sergeant Cavill is second in command and I expect you all to follow her lead if anything happens to me. Be effective, be smart, and be ready for anything. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!" Lopez paused for a response.

"SIR, YES SIR!" Every single Marine chanted off the top of their lungs.

"Good." Lopez said with a small smirk in his face. He moved along the seats, passing by the scientist crew and finally setting himself on his own seat. The ship had began to take flight. Some minor turbulence took place, it startled some of the scientist crew, the Marines not so much.

"Ross, everything is set down here. What's our ETA?" Lopez asked over his comms to his fellow commander.

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ComradeMaxx Aesthetically Displeasing

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LAUNCH

CDR. ROSS
VITAE LOG #5
Morning, 2221
♪♪♪



The Nyx was abuzz with activity for the first time since the Vitae had launched. Engineers, scientists, aids and technicians were swarming the Nyx's relatively small bridge. Last minute systems checks were being run thrice over; though the Nyx was in tip-top shape as always, Command felt it necessary- she was carrying some of the most vital members of the Vitae's crew on it's most important mission yet, after all.

While Elijah couldn't exactly blame them for doing their due diligence, he very much wanted them all off of his bridge. It was too cramped to have twenty people all attempting to run analyses on it's every system, sub-system and process. The sensors were a particular source for concern for the dozen odd engineers pouring over it's mechanisms and fail-safes like their lives depended on it. Those sensors were going to give them their first close look at P4A-229. They were the machines that would determine if this planet was truly the home that humanity's last remnant sought; or if it nothing more than a forlorn attempt at ending their isolation among the stars.

He tried to block their voices out, focusing on what lay in front of him. He cast his eyes over the expanse of glass that dominated the front of the cockpit, his gaze tracing over the holographic displays that littered the window. All he saw beyond it were the titanic bay doors of the Vitae; soon, however, he would be met with the endless sea of black that they would sail upon to reach their fated destination. There were smaller consoles attached to his command chair's armrests that lay just above the Nyx's side stick controller and throttle that could be programmed to serve any number of functions. At the moment his engineering officer, Reyes, had the screens connected to Command and Control. They were waiting on the go-ahead from Locke before they could launch.

Almost as if on cue, the sound of the gargantuan gateway opening up in front of them roared out. It was joined by the moaning warning klaxons of the hangar bay, and the rasp of air being drained from the massive room. The Nyx was too large to be stored in the main hangar with all of the smaller escort vessels, so it had it's own dedicated sub-bay. While they took the final steps toward launch, Elijah's attention was drawn away from the hangar and toward Reyes.

"Incoming call from C&C." Reyes informed him.

Ross nodded, looking over toward the hologram projector just as Admiral Locke appeared. The admiral's comically small head hovered over the projector like that of a disembodied ghost. As Elijah had come to expect, the man didn't have a great deal to say; a brief reminder to stay in contact and to keep his men safe. William had never been one for grand speeches and pompous showmanship- Ross was thankful for that. He couldn't imagine how impossibly irritating it would be to be kept in this accursed hangar while the admiral droned on about 'the fate of humanity' and other such nonsense. Locke said what had to be said, and gave them the order to launch.

"Will do, sir. You can count on us." Ross briefly debated whether or not to add in a final, friendly jab, but decided against it; he had to remain professional, even if he was, admittedly, a little giddy. This was their first away mission in the five years since they'd left their home solar system behind.

Elijah wasn't the only one that was excited, either. He could practically feel the electricity in the air as the auxiliary crew finished the final checks behind him. He turned around in his seat, watching as the technicians and engineers hesitated to leave. Their eyes were cast out the bridge's main window.

Ross wasn't having any of that.

"Clear the bridge!" He snapped. "I'm trying to fly four hundred thousand tons of metal here, I don't need you distracting me." Even as the first three words left his mouth, the gaggle of workers had already started to make for the exit in record time. Ross waited until the last of them had thrown the door shut behind him before he turned back around, facing the unimpeded expanse of space for the first time in what felt like forever.

He felt an inkling of that same rush of emotion that had hit him the first time he sat down in the pilot's seat all those decades ago. Ross was overcome with eagerness and nearly crippled with terror in the same instance. Elijah had grown numb to the dark void in time, but the discovery of P4A-229 had caused them all to come rushing back to him again. His tongue lashed against his lips as he reached down and planted his respirator over his aging face. Air rushed into his lungs in the same moment he took hold of the controls, ushering the Nyx forward.

They entered space with the smoothness and ease of a paper boat gliding across the water. Almost as soon as he'd gotten them out of the Vitae, someone else wanted his attention.

"Captain Lopez in the passenger bay is calling up, sir." Reyes informed his commander dutifully. "All systems are green as well. Nothing out of the ordinary."

"Thank you, Reyes." Ross flicked on his communicator. There was no holographic display this time; rather, the projector sent up a caller ID on the marine, displaying his name and rank beside a static image of his face. Lopez was eager to know when they'd arrive to P4A-229. Ross couldn't blame him. They all wanted to set their eyes on it as soon as possible.

"I'll have that information for you in a moment, captain." Elijah turned toward his navigation officer, Baines. "Do you have an ETA for us?"

Baines's fingers pranced across her console with practiced precision and grace as she uploaded their destination from the Vitae's navigation system to the Nyx's own. "We'll need to get a safe distance from the ark before we can activate our jump drive. Then we just have to wait for her to charge." Baines's voice was picked up by the commander's comm system, playing for Lopez so that he'd hear the answer as well. "Computer calculates around forty five minutes."

"Hope you brought a deck of cards, captain." Elijah grinned. "This'll take a little while."
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Matthew Lopez





"I'll have that information for you in a moment, captain."


Lopez's question was put on hold as Ross told him to wait a bit for the info. Lopez didn't say anything, Ross was smart enough to know that Lopez was rather patient with this type of things. The entire passenger bay was shaking as the Nyx took flight into the vacuum of space. The empty aura of such darkness made Lopez's skin crawl as he looked out the windows of the passenger bay. The other marines and members of the science team also looked over to their closest windows to admire such a sight as the unknown planet came into view, so massive, so hopeful.

Lopez turned away from the window to check his weaponry and gear. His Merlin pistol fully loaded, his ARX rifle as well. Grenade rounds ready, rockets ready, thrusters too. He looked over his arm pad to skim through the mission objectives once more, it felt like ages since he had lead a mission, especially to an unknown planet. He still vividly remembered the last days on Earth, his home Mars. The day he buried his wife on that hill where they had once passed so many days together. He had to do this, for her, for his son, for all of them.

Ross finally came back with the info after a few minutes. His voice sounding over the comms on Lopez's rig.

"Computer calculates around forty five minutes. Hope you brought a deck of cards, captain." Elijah grinned. "This'll take a little while."


"Roger that, Ross." Lopez replied while looking at the others who were still either looking out the windows or trying to hold in the feeling to vomit out of the nervousness.

"Not my first time having to wait Ross. We'll be fine, just give me a holler when we're close to landing." Lopez followed his first remarks as he finished his reading on mission objectives. This would be a long day.
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